WHAT IS IT LIKE EXPLORING A TRUNK?
There is a sense of ritual for opening a Red Trunk. After the students watch the Introductory Video, they gather in a circle around the trunk. Their teacher explains the value of what’s inside the trunk. That the trunk contains the very lives and culture of the children seen in the video. That everything in the trunk must be respected and cared for, just like they would want other children to take care of their belongings if they were sent thousands of miles away. The teacher also reminds the children that they might be in touch with the children in the video. Which lends the process more of an air of ‘respectful borrowing.’
Once the teacher is assured that the students are in a suitable respectful-but-excited mood, the trunk is opened. The inside of the trunk is layered and compartmented so the experience unfolds in a series of revelations. Some of the artifacts are passed around the circle, so the students have the chance to hold each, trying to figure out what each one is. As the objects are passed the teacher lists some of the activities and support materials attached to each.
EXPLORING AND EXPERIENCING THE TRUNK
The trunks will all be organized into a 10-unit curriculum, that schools will have the option of adopting or altering to fit their needs. Every object in the trunks will be attached to at least one of the units, hopefully more than one. This 10-unit structure will make it possible for a class to explore a trunk in 2 weeks, 10 school days, focusing on one unit per day. Here is the 10-unit structure:
Older elementary students (4th and 5th grades) can work through the different sections of the trunk either as a class or in small groups of three or four. The folk dancing section might work great for a whole class, while the language sections might work best in smaller groups. Learning how to play one of the musical instruments might work best on an individual basis.
On the last day, in a kind of Sharing Festival, the kids all come together to share what they've experienced. Songs will be sung, dances will be danced, artifacts will be shared, and maybe some food sampled. This last Festival should be focused on joy and fun, just like the rest of the Red Trunk experience.
There may be an opportunity for the class to communicate with students or teachers in the trunk videos, either through Skype (if time zones and availability permit) or perhaps sending a video message as a class. A short “goodbye” video made by the students from the trunk will be produced and included in the trunk, in the event that a Skype conversation isn’t possible.
THE TRUNKS THEMSELVES
The custom-built trunks are framed with Russian birch wood, equipped with no-slam hinges, built-in wheels, and sealed in scratch proof thermoplastic.
The trunks for each location will have a unique interior design, guided by the size, shape, and number of the included artifacts. Most trunks will likely utilize a tray to separate the bottom portion of the trunk into two sections. The tray itself will have sections and slots for holding smaller items.
The portion of the trunk below the tray will be divided into sections and slots to hold boxes, booklets, DVDs, MP3 Players, and all of the larger and heavier artifacts. Every item in the trunk has its own place, clearly mapped and labeled, for both shipping and storing.
A master list, with a map showing where and how everything is stored, is kept in a sleeve attached to the inside of the trunk’s lid. This sleeve also contains the instructions on how to repack the trunk. The instructions are simple and clear, so the children themselves can do the repacking. Just like opening and exploring the trunk, the respect the students show re-packing the trunk is a vital element of the Red Trunk experience.
ORDERING A TRUNK
The Trunks will be available to rent or lease. Rentals will be by the week, while leases will be by the semester or year. It's anticipated that most schools will choose the leasing option. The pricing will work better for a school district with multiple classrooms, allowing a single trunk to be shared as needed. And they will have the flexibility of slotting the Trunks in whenever is appropriate in the curriculum.
Schools can order the Trunks on the Red Trunk website, choosing from a variety of locations, with the different rental or leasing options. It will be highly recommended that each class has the chance to experience at least two different trunks per year, giving the students the opportunity to compare and contrast at least two cultures. After a class finishes exploring the trunks, the students can take some time to discuss what they would put in a hypothetical trunk to represent their own lives and culture.
DELIVERING A TRUNK IN THE U.S.
Red Trunk Project
Red Trunk Project
Red Trunk Project
SENDING A TRUNK OVERSEAS
Everything in the trunks will be translated, dubbed and relabeled in to the destination language. In locations that are secure, the trunks will be shipped via UPS or FedEx.
Schools in at-risk locations will have trunks delivered by a team of two Facilitators. They will travel with two or three trunks in a truck or jeep. The Facilitators will act as both guards and chauffeurs for the Trunks, as well as educators to help lead exploration of the Trunks' contents. At least one of the Facilitators will be a local hire.
Red Trunk Project
For schools within a certain radius of the Red Trunk Project HQ (the NYC/NJ/Long Island vicinity) the Trunks are personally delivered by Red Trunk. For schools elsewhere in the US, the trunks are delivered via FedEx or UPS. The built-in wheels will make it easy to roll the trunks to and from classrooms.
For Trunk rentals, after the rental period has expired and the Trunk is packed, the teacher prints a shipping label, that came as an email attachment. The trunk is picked up, and delivered to the next school the next morning. Trunks that are leased are shipped straight back to Red Trunk Project headquarters, so the trunk can be cleaned and restocked, and then sent out to other schools.
Red Trunk Project hopes to partner with AmeriCorps to expand the reach of Red Trunk, with a concentration of alleviating the stigma of poverty by broadening horizons and opportunities. AmeriCorps volunteers will take van-loads of trunks to students in schools that don’t have the means to rent, or have the space in their curriculum. Students will have a chance to explore Trunks as an after school or weekend activity, over a weekend, as part of a Festival or Fair, or at a YMCA or other youth center.